Spoilers sound fun…

Who wrote this book and when?
Theodore Dreiser managed to get “Sister Carrie” published in 1900.

Has there been a movie made of this book?
No, no, no, this isn’t the one with the pig’s blood and evil lady with knives…the only film version of Dreiser’s “Sister Carrie” was made in 1952 with Laurence Olivier starring as Hurstwood and Jennifer Jones as Carrie. It was simply titled “Carrie.”

Who are the main characters?
Carrie Meeber – a country girl who moves to the city of Chicago with big dreams
Charles Drouet – Carrie’s first consort, a cheerful optimistic salesman
George Hurstwood – a married man, Carrie’s second consort
Lola – one of Carrie’s friends and room mate
Mrs. Vance – the woman who inspires Carrie to become fashionable and rich

What’s it about?
Carrie Meeber’s story is a bildungsroman, but not portrayed in the
typical sense. Our protagaonist isn’t necessarily maturing into
adulthood as we would normally think of it but instead learning how to
pursue what she wants no matter the cost.

We first meet Carrie as she is traveling by train to Chicago to live
with her married sister and her husband. She is leaving behind her
family in Columbia City, Illinois, to try and make it in the city.
While traveling, she meets Charles Drouet, who is immediately
attracted to Carrie because of her innocence and apparent future
beauty. They converse all the way to Chicago, ending with Drouet
asking if the can call on Carrie later in the week and Carrie
accepting.

Moving to Chicago is only the first step of many which Carrie takes in her incessant quest for happiness. She is willing to do almost anything to get more respect, money, recognition and – in her opinion – contentment.

Why is this book a classic?
This book is mainly a classic because it was written by Theodore Dreiser, one of the first people to write stories in the 20th century that suggested not all immorality would be punished and that people could get to the top by immoral and dishonest means. In fact, because of that, he had a very hard time getting it published.

Why should I read this book?
To be honest, nothing stands out as superior to recommend to you for this book. I have heard that Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy” is much better if you wish to sample his writings, but of course – don’t take my word for it!

Anything else?
Theodore Dreiser was Sinclair Lewis’ favorite author. Because of this book. “Sister Carrie” was Dreiser’s first novel.

You can also get this book’s text for free at Project Gutenburg.

Favorite quotes:
“The whole earth was brimming sunshine that morning. She tripped along, the clear sky pouring liquid blue into her soul. Oh, blessed are the children of endeavour in this, that they try and are hopeful. And blessed also are they who, knowing, smile and approve.” – p188

“She might have been said to be imagining herself in love, when she was not. Women frequently do this. It flows from the fact that in each exists a bias toward affection, a craving for the pleasure of being loved. The longing to be shielded, bettered, sympathised with, is one of the attributes of the sex. This, coupled with sentiment and a natural tendency to emotion, often makes refusing difficult. It persuades them that they are in love.” – p242

“To the untravelled, territory other than their own familiar heath is invariably fascinating. Next to love, it is the one thing which solaces and delights.” – p 305

Personal thoughts:
I enjoyed this book once I FINALLY got into it. It took a very long time for me to adjust my brain to his writing style – which is very philosophical. Dreiser expounds on every thought of his and the characters, following it to its conclusion as well as exploring its source and impact. Which makes for tedious reading until you are accustomed to it. I love this story because it doesn’t end happily, but Dreiser doesn’t resort to an outright tragedy to make his point. You’re always traveling but not necessarily getting anywhere.

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